Friday, December 21, 2012


This is my favorite season - this year. . . .

Traditionally November and December have been the most difficult months in my life.  Other than dismal weather, the most traumatic events have usually occurred in these months - or in early January. 

But this year, I'm all about Christmastime.  

I have many reasons to be happy:
My children are doing well; my relationship with them is harmonious and loving.  

My son and daughter-in-law are competent, interested and loving parents.  Their 5 year old daughter enjoys doing crafts with me.  Their son at two sparkles with personality.

My daughter is ........amazing!

I am blessed to have in my life a wonderful man who continually surprises me with his thoughtfulness, gentleness and brilliance.  

I now live in a welcoming retirement community.  My block is known to be the most "social" in this community.  Some of my neighbors are becoming friends, others friendly acquaintances.

Life has mellowed me.  I've learned some of its more difficult lessons.  I face the challenges that life now present me with grace.  Every day is a gift.

And . . . . . the bank down the street always has cookies and coffee available.  I call it the Cookie Bank.  A week ago they hosted their annual Christmas party, a gift to those of us who do our banking there.  The food is abundant and includes an assortment of gourmet appetizers, wonderful bakery items, wine and other beverages.

At the Christmas party at the Cookie Bank was the attractive woman pictured above.  I love the flair with which she is dressed.  Her presence added to the festivity of the occasion.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I swim because that is what I do; I am a swimmer.
Pain dictates that it is the only cardio exercise I get.
A fourth a mile away from my house
Is a warm community pool.
I am fortunate
And thankful.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fanny Hensel Mendelssohn

This morning I attended a lecture about  Felix Mendelssohn's older sister, Fanny  Mendelssohn Hensel.  

She was born in 1805 into a Jewish family that converted to Protestantism in order to assimilate into the upper echelons of the stratified Prussian aristocracy.  Though she was precociously  gifted with musical talent, she was told that music could only be an "ornament" in her life; her brother, Felix, was groomed to music greatness.  

Fanny composed over 400 musical compositions.  She  organized and performed in.biweekly concerts in the "garden room," which seated over 200 people, in the mansion where she lived with her family.  The famous and the powerful attended these.

Until 1847, Felix discouraged Fanny from having her works published.  Upon the publication of a few of them, she said that she felt like she been been "reborn."  At this point, she was writing prodigiously.  She died less than a year later.

Fanny's works went undiscovered until the 1980's when a scholar wrote a biography of her famous brother and found himself fascinated by his older sister.  One wonders how the course of Fanny's life would have been had she been born 150 years later.

(If the video below doesn't work, here is the link.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Taking Time

Sometimes a response is needed.  The behavior of the other person requires it.  Such a task has sometimes overwhelmed me in the past.  I am impelled to respond immediately and the task overtakes my life.

This time, I did it differently.  I set a time for four days later to write a response to a provocative letter that I had received.  When thoughts about the planned letter intruded, I pushed them away.  When I found myself mulling the situation while swimming laps, I focused on the number of the lengths that I had completed.

On Sunday, alone and with hours at my disposal, I finally jotted down the points that I wanted to make.  Rather than the fevered passion which has accompanied my writing such letters in the past, I felt a sense of peace. Putting distance between my initial reaction and my expression of it allowed me to do the task dispassionately.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Playing With Pictures

Towards the end of September, Gari and Gari's son, Gabe, and I took a RV trip to Yosemite and the Gold Country.  

Yesterday, as I reviewed the pictures and downloaded the selected ones to Shutterfly in preparation for a photo album, I smiled.

Friday, November 9, 2012


I've been looking at my need for creative activity.  I am making this a priority.  I am not going to let the continual demands to do paperwork - and then more paperwork - an ever growing mountain of paperwork - smother me.  I need to create!

Taking the time to swim is important.  Given my pain issues, it is the only cardio exercise that I get.  I am fortunate to live a fourth of a mile from a warm pool in the retirement community to where I now live.  I am learning to make that a priority.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Post-Election Comment

My candidate won.  The plot of land on which my house is located will not secede after all!

I'm actually very relieved that Obama won.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Joys of Life - A Sunday in August 2012

                                                                    A lazy day, a decision to NOT "accomplish."
Three hours spent on the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. I have always felt too inadequate to persevere with it.  The puzzle was described as "easy" by Rex Parker, "the 31st Greatest Crossword Puzzle Solver in the Universe!," and many of his commentators.  Even though I used Google to help me with a few clues and ended up with three errors, for me it was a triumph just to finish it.              And I got ALL of the theme items.

Afterwards, reading a bit in Edward Rutherfurd's  "New York."  At times the characters are mere hangars on which to hang the historical events, but the book is (for the most part) highly readable and gives a good sense of  that very dynamic city from 1664, when it was New Amsterdam, to Summer 2009 in an Epilogue.  I am half way through, up to the Civil War.

Edward Rutherfurd has written two other novels that I want to read:  "Russka:  The Novel of Russia," and "Sarum:  The Novel of England.."  "New York" is 860 pages.  I plan to read his other novels on my Kindle.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I Guess I'll Live

  I just renewed my Consumer Reports subscription for 5 years.   I hesitated about doing that.  My health issues over the last 1 1/2+ years makes me wonder how many more seasons the Arlene Comedy Show will run.  This renewal is an affirmation that it might be picked up for at least that many years.

Subscription Expires:September 2012 Current Offer:
1 year $26 - Save over $58 off of the newstand price.
2 years $49 - Save over $119 off of the newstand price.
5 years $98 - Save over $322 off of the newstand price.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Evil Empire (revised)

When Ronald Reagan referred to the Evil Empire, he meant the Soviet Union.  He was wrong.                                                           
I have spent 10+ documented hours dealing with AT&T on the phone and through text communication.  Most of my impotent rage is directed at Connect Tech, a company  to which AT&T refers its customers when they think a customer's problem is related to software.  As it turned out, mine was not initially a software problem.
                                                                                                                  The difficulty with which I was dealing on Friday, July 13, was that I couldn't get my e-mail on my computer at my usual mailbox.  I was able to receive it on my iPhone and iPad and should have counted my blessings.  Or I could have followed some advice to use gmail proffered early in the process.  Instead (and foolishly), I turned to tech support at increasingly high levels of expertise (or so I was told.)

As it turned out, what started as a simple and minor problem, has stolen my time and cost me money to pay the computer geek that cleaned up most of the mess Connect Tech created. My advice:  DO NOT EVER LET CONNECT TECH REMOTELY "FIX" YOUR COMPUTER.  NEVER!  EVER!  NEVER!

Here's what the last 2+  weeks looked like at my house:
(In between all of these contacts, I was on hold for a very very long time.

July 13 (Friday):  (1 hour) with Customer Service and the first layer of techno geeks.  They tell me that my problem is a software problem - it wasn't (yet) - and that Tech Connect will fix the problem for a $50 fee. At the hour point on the phone, I am willing to pay the money.
(3+ hours) with Tech Connect; the company "takes over" my computer and "fixes" things remotely.  At the end of my time with them, my e-mail program is still not working.  TC tells me to be patient; that the line has a problem that technicians would be fixing

July 14 and 15 (Saturday and Sunday):  I discover that I have NO security on my computer AND my printer cannot print

July 16 (Monday):  (1+ hours) After being passed from one person to another, I reach Heidi in "Retention."   She tells me that she will reverse the $50 that I agreed to pay Tech Connect to deal with my e-mail program.  (Later I discover that the charge was not reversed).  She says she will connect me to tech support and I will not be charged.  The connection fails.  I eventually get  tech support.  I ask to be connected to a supervisor.  I am never connected to a supervisor.  The person with whom I dealing with tells me that her supervisor looked the problem over and says that  I should talk with "Risk Management."  She tries to connect me to RM.  The connection fails.  When I finally reach "Risk Management," they are closed.

July 18 (Wednesday):  (2 1/2 hours) Risk Management informs me that their department deals with claims against AT&T.  I don't want to make a claim;  I want my security programs back and my connection to my printer fixed.  They tell me to contact Connect Tech.  At the end of this second time with CT, my printer is able to print and I am told that my security programs are working.  Later I discover that they do NOT work. 

July 20 (Friday):  (1 hour) on the phone  I talk with Brian in Retention.  I want to make sure that I will not be charged for my calls to Connect Tech.  He assures me I won't be.  I tell him that I want a tech to come to my house without charge to fix the computer problems that Connect Tech has caused.   I am told that there will be a charge, but Retention will reverse it after the charge appears on my bill.  I need to call Retention for this to happen.  I tell Brian that I don't want to have to call AT&T again to reverse a charge.  I ask to speak to a supervisor.  After a long wait, I talk with Pranali who says that she will reverse the charge after it has posted without my calling.  I contact Customer Service to arrange for a technician to come to my house.  The tech comes, tells me that he doesn't deal with software issues, and DOESN'T charge me for his visit.  He also gives me his direct phone number.  
 That night my computer geek friend gets my security back. (21/2 hours)
August 1 and 2 or 3 (Wednesday and Thursday or Friday):  (1 1/2 hours)  Jason, following up with the  AT&T Survey I completed, tells me in our first conversation that he will help me deal with my remaining computer problems.  In Jason's second call, he says me that he found out that the problems that I am having with my computer can only be solved by Tech Connect ; they should be the ones to deal with the problems since they created them.   I tell him that I am unwilling to deal with Connect Tech again.  Jason assures me that he will pave the way for me to talk with the right person to get the job done.   We hang up.                                                                                                                     Jason calls me back a few minutes later with Ray at Connect Tech on the line.  He makes sure that Ray understands the situation.  Before Jason hangs up, he assures me that that AT&T will reverse the fees that CT will charge.  The amount at this point seems to be $15 for one time or $149 (it wasn't clear) and Jason says okay to both possibilities.  

As soon as Jason hangs up, Ray tells me that he needs to review my account.  He reads me a statement about the $149  that CT will be charging for its services.  He asks me to agree to the statement.  I do so.  He then passes me on to Joe who wants to discuss my account.  We discuss my account.  Joe hands me off to a woman who wants to discuss my account.  At this point, I have been on the line for 40 minutes with Connect Tech with people who only want to deal with the financial aspects of my account.  I have had zero contact with someone to deal with the problems that CT created in the first place.  I hang up in an uncontrollable rage.

  Afterwards, I leave a message on Jason's answering machine to describe my experience.  I am hysterical, a mad woman, at this point.

August 3 (Friday night):  My computer geek friend deals with the problems that have emerged since he worked on the computer.  (1 1/2 hours)  This time I insist that he accept payment for all 4+ hours that he spent fixing the problems created by CT.

August 6 (Monday):  I leave a message on Jason's phone telling him that I want to be sure that I will not be charged by Connect Tech and that I don't think that AT&T should have to pay them either.   I am also interested in making a claim.  I haven't heard from Jason since our August 3 conversation.

I would like to write and mean the statement:  AT&T and I cannot co-exist on this planetAs it stands, I can't even get rid of them in my life.  They provide the super-structure of the tools I use.  When I use my iPhone 3G, it is powered by AT&T.  Will that be the case when I go to Verizon at the end of my contract with AT&T?  What other options are there for my land line?  For e-mail, it is AT&T or Comcast. Comcast  doesn't have a particularly good reputation either.  (Other e-mail providers, like Sonic, use AT&T's super-structure.)

AT&T IS THE EVIL EMPIRE and I don't think I can escape living in it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Prey and Predator

Daisy (the prey) and Roi (the predator)
It's hard to see this in these pictures.  Looks can be deceiving.
I've been trying to train Roi,the orange tabby, to not chase and stalk, to not stare at Daisy when she's on her "safe chair" and suddenly pounce, to not corner her and attack.
Roi knows that he will get in trouble for following what is his instinct.
I am asking him to go against his DNA.
All my life, I have had cats (and a dog when I was a child.)
Never have I had a furry family member that didn't get along with another furry family member.
(I've had as many as three cats at a time.)
They've lived peacefully together and sometimes cuddled with each other.
(I have some strategies for training Roi up my sleeve that I haven't yet tried.)
The furry members of my family have always mattered to me, less so when I was bringing up human children, more now that they are the little ones in the home I share with the wonderful Gari (who shares my love for the animals in our lives.)
There was a time in my life when I had this tongue-in-cheek thought:  (I know) God doesn't hate me ' cause he created cats.
Cats bring so much joy and love to my life.
Right now Roi is testing whether this is true in his case.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Incapacitating Pain

At this point in my life, the level of pain that I am experiencing on any given day determines what I do and what I don't do, that and fatigue because of inadequate sleep. The pain in my back is often incapacitating. It is complicated by an unresolved (unresolvable?) medical issue that causes moderate to acute pain; when the latter, I am unable to do the stretching exercises that ease the pain in my back. When I've exerted myself physically today, I have felt moderate pain. Earlier, I made a comment on Kathy's blog about the importance of consistency. It is time for me to get off of my comfortable reclining brown chair and do the exercises that I CAN do today.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Beauty of Pollination

If you haven't seen this video, you OWE it to yourself to see it.  In slo-mo, it shows bats flying, hummingbirds twirling, butterflies leaving their cocoons and later mating, iridescent insects deep in flowers feeding.  This is an AMAZING video.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's not politically correct to say this, but..

I was at a women's lunch last Wednesday when a woman at the table at which I was seated prefaced her comment with this statement:  "It's not politically correct to say this, but......."   I cringed.

What distinguished us at this table is that our homes are part of the same neighborhood within a very large retirement community. Our homes, arranged around a circle - actually an oval - with a block of other homes in the middle, share the same street name. We have a Board that deals with common interests and concerns. We have organized social events. Among them is the monthly women's luncheons.

Among the women attending last Wednesday's luncheon were those who were good friends with each other, acquaintances and (like me) strangers. Seven or eight women sat at each of the two round tables. At my table, the conversation was of the getting-to-know-you type as well as of updates on the health of absent neighbors and of topics of the day. Nothing particularly controversial. Nothing particularly deep. 

 I don't remember the context of the woman's comment, but it seemed to change the tone and course of the conversation. That could be the subject of another post. 

For now, a few thoughts: It seems to me that the preamble "It's not politically correct to say this, but.....," is an invitation by the speaker to join him or her in disparaging people of different races/religions/ethnicity/life styles/sexual orientations, etc, it is a prelude to hate speech portraying itself as honest plain speaking. The implication is that "political correctness" is a pretension that overly sensitive people use rather than stating the obvious. It seems to me that whenever someone begins a statement in this way, he or she is about to say something obnoxious. 

Later this same woman said that she wished that celebrities would keep their politics to themselves. I didn't say that I wished instead that she would keep her toxic opinions to herself, but I sure thought it.

Friday, April 6, 2012


The bookcases around the fireplace were to be installed today.  Before they got 
into hammering, the men who were here to install it discovered that the way 
it was designed did not take into consideration the two electrical outlets on each side.  The bookcase needs to be modified or the electrical outlets on each side need to be moved before more work can be done.  My 16+ boxes of books will remain in their boxes.  The disruption of the building process will be pushed down the line.  Chaos.

 Meanwhile the contractor and his worker (two different people) have been working on the outside dealing with dry rot and woodpecker damage on the siding and front of the house. Today, they were rebuilding the fence in the rear.  Next week they will be in the kitchen installing "candle lights" to replace the ugly fluorescent tubes.  After that, the laundry floor will need to be replaced.  Chaos.

Yesterday, besides the contractor and his worker, the electrician and his helper were dealing with electrical issues.  This included switching a chandelier from my old house to the new one.  Chaos.

Chaos.  Disruption   I have a huge problem dealing with this.  (At least I've gotten a handle on the garage mess - with some of it ending up on my kitchen table). 

I find it hard to focus on what I need to do in the midst of this chaos.  It is hard for me to prioritize.  It particularly hard for me to do what is in my long term interest.  It is easy for me instead to choose instant gratification.The chronic pain with which I live, especially the acute flare ups,  have a significant multiplier effect.  It is in this confluence of these horribles that I am trying (again) to make healthful food choices and  exercise consistently.  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Not A miracle

I just wrote a long post and accidently erased it. The blogging program on the IPad doesn't automatically save what is written. I have a headache and am angry. Grrrrrrr.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It Doesn't Get Better Than This

Today was my birthday.
I spent it with the most important people in my life.
I am so blessed to love and be loved.

Nope.  I don't live on a hill . . . but this was the best of the photos.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Miracle Just Happened

And this is not an April Fools Joke..... My Internet failed this morning. This meant no wireless connection for my iPad.....which later would mean no Netflix for the evening. It also meant that I could not access the wild and wacky world with my hard wired computer either. Since my iPhone has access to 3G or 4G (whatever that is), I wasn't entirely unconnected to the rest of the on-line world, but its screen is small compared to the other options and I'm spoiled. I unplugged the router or modem or whatever it is called. (It has about seven lights in a row that show if the thing is working.) That didn't fix the problem, so I tried it again and a third time. And then gave up because I wanted to deal with the continuing saga of my moving-in chaos. I worked in the garage at a good pace, but felt gloomy and anxious. I couldn't shake off that nibbling sensation of my world being off kilter. And then the miracle began. I took a break and called AT+T. The computer program that has the voice of a very nice man asked me a few questions. (Usually I end his spiel with insistently saying "operator.") Today I answered the questions. After a few interchanges he told me that he'd reboot my connection. I hung up when the silence that he told me to expect came. A few minutes later the blinky blinky router or modem or whatever it is called blinked happily along. AT+T fixed the problem. (I won't ponder whether or not they caused the problem in the first place.) AT+T got it right and it only took a few minutes to do so. That feels to me like a miracle.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Will I have to pay tomorrow with incapacitating pain for energetically tearing through the garage, unpacking boxes, finding places for my recently dispossessed possessions? I have much to do to complete this exhausting and seemingly interminable move, the most difficult that I have ever experienced. I continue to feel the tension of the desire to work frenetically and the desire to rest so that my body can heal.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Enforced Self Indulgency

I am laying in bed on a slanted wedge with two pillows propping my head, another underneath my knees and another on my lap supporting the iPad on which I am writing. I have been in much pain the last several days with a fierce backache. I have just emerged from Ann Tyler's novel "Digging to America."  It is a story about two families, one Iranian and the other American, who meet at the airport when each of them are being given the Korean babies that they had adopted. I feel as if I've just left these people as I leave people in my real world; just as people in my real life continue to exist when I'm gone, so does Maryam and David and Bitsy continue living their lives beyond the novel. (If I e-mailed them, they might respond).

It has been raining all day.I hear the tapping of rain as it hits the window. Unlike the banging of rain in the downspouts in the house from which I recently moved, this sound is peaceful and reassuring. My writing - and before that my my reading - is interrupted periodically by my sweet little cat, Daisy, seeking my loving attention - or the feline equivalency of that. (While in bed, I have eaten pretzels, rice pudding and best of all, Otter Pops.)

As I lay in bed, I feel like a kid excused from school because of sickness. I also feel like I'm playing hookey. There are tasks that NEED to be done and I feel the imperative to act. On top of unpacked boxes of books in front of my desk, there is a multi-level (and constantly growing) jumble of sheets, towels and blankets - used in packing during my recent move. It has been sitting there for two plus months. Half of my garage is crammed with cleaning supplies and office supplies and stuff and stuff mixed up in various boxes. This is a result of a move stretching to almost three months from a house 1.8 miles away.  I moved in stages and hand carried many things. I packed disparate items in the boxes so that they were not too heavy for me to carry.  Packing Windex, boxes of paper clips and staples, and rolls of paper towels in the same box made sense then.  (I don't recommend this.)

Laying here in bed, I feel like I'm faking my need to be in it.  I should be actively creating order from the chaos that surrounds me.  In the kitchen, I move a few items and then a few more.  I open the door from the laundry room to the garage, make a path to some cleaning supplies and bring them into the kitchen.    Gradually and then insistently the fierce pain in my back reasserts itself. I return to the bedroom and sink into the luxury of enforced self indulgence.